Cannabis & Postpartum Depression: Helpful Or Harmful?

With cannabis becoming acceptable as a medical form of treatment for many ailments, diseases and conditions, the topic of using marijuana as medicine for various circumstances has become a constant topic of conversation.  It has been questioned whether or not smoking while pregnant is good or bad for the baby's health, but what about the mother's health after birth?

Postpartum depression is a condition that affects many women after giving birth that usually affects the mother, but can also affect the father as well.  Symptoms of this type of clinical depression include sadness, low energy, crying, anxiety and irritability. Most women go through some form of depression after birth due to the drastic hormonal changes that occur in the weeks after.  However, when symptoms become severe and last for two weeks or longer, there is a raise in concern.

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Despite the fact that cannabis is not recognized as a medicinal form of treatment for postpartum depression in many states, women are leaning towards marijuana rather than other opioids.  In Texas, a mother said her therapist/doctor told her that medical marijuana could be helpful for her postpartum depression.  “It allows me to be present with my children whereas in the past I would be consumed with thoughts of the millions of things on my to-do list,” she said. “Playing dolls and Legos, reading the same book dozens of times in one day is something I can now do with joy and mindfulness.”

Sen. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio, co-authored the bill that brought medical marijuana to Texas and is in favor of adding postpartum depression to the list of conditions applicable for medical marijuana treatment.  Since he has heard of many Texas women successfully using cannabis as medicine for their postpartum depression, he has introduced a bill that would expand what medical marijuana can be used for in Texas that could end up including the disorder.

“What I don’t understand is why it is that politicians feel like they can pick and choose which legitimate medicines are available for doctors to prescribe,” Sen. Menendez told KXAN. “All I’m trying to do is allow for medical doctors to be able to in consultation with their patients decide which course of medication is best for them.”

Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Medial Director of Canna-Centers in Los Angeles, is in favor of the bill as well.  Recognizing that these women are in need of medical treatment and are not looking for an escape from parenting and an outlet to get high, she said, "“These are not people who are saying ‘lets get high...' It’s quite safe and it may work and we have this system in our brain that may be imbalanced and this plant may be the answer to put it back into balance.”

Lower doses of THC and higher doses of CBD have been proven to have beneficial medicinal effects on patients.  Although consuming cannabis while breast feeding is still up for research and debate, should cannabis be a recommended form of medicinal treatment for mothers who are not breast feeding yet going through postpartum depression?